Suicide in the United States
There were 42,773 recorded suicides in the United States in 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% over the 15 previous years (1999 to 2014), from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
In 2009, suicide was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the 16th leading cause of death for females. In 2015, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24 and the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 14. From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among American ages 35 to 64 increased nearly 30 percent. The largest increases were among men in their fifties, with rates rising nearly 50 percent, to 30 per 100,000. For women aged 60 to 64, rates rose 60 percent, to 7.0 per 100,000. In 2008, it was observed that U.S. suicide rates, particularly among middle-aged white women, had increased, although the causes were unclear. According to the last study done by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, in 2014 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Moreover, each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide, imposing a cost of $51 billion to the US annually. Other additional facts showed by the study were:
- The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.26 per 100,000 individuals.
- Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women.
- Women attempt suicide 3x more often than men.
- On average, there are 121 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2015.
- Firearms account for almost 50% of all suicides.
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle age—white men in particular.
The U.S government seeks to prevent suicides through its National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a collaborative effort of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, and Indian Health Service. Their plan consists of eleven goals aimed at preventing suicides. Older adults are disproportionately likely to die by suicide. Some U.S. jurisdictions have laws against suicide or against assisting suicide. In recent years, there has been increased interest in rethinking these laws. These policies focus on the recovery of the individual through the treatment of the mental disease. The aim is to assure the wellness and the health of the person affected as well as make sure that they recover perfectly and take advantage of their all potential.
A study in 2011 found a correlation between altitude above sea level and suicide. There is some indication that ongoing lack of oxygen may lead to depression and paradoxically, in some cases, euphoria. This potential correlation does not seem to be widely appreciated as recent articles fail to mention the findings. Graphics showing the rate of suicide by state and a view of exaggerated elevation would seem to support the linkage between altitude and rates of suicide.
According to USA Today, there is a suicide every 13 minutes in the United States. The same article stated that there are far fewer homicides than suicides in the country; in fact, homicide rates have fallen by half in the U.S. since 1991.
Approximately one-half of suicides are committed by firearm, accounting for two-thirds of all firearms deaths. [21,334 of 33,599 in 2014]
Number of suicides by age group and sex
|Age (years)||5 - 14||15 - 24||25 - 34||35 - 44||45 - 54||55 - 64||65 - 74||75+||All|
|Male/Female Rate ||3.0||4.9||4.4||3.4||3.1||3.4||4.8||5.8||3.9|
There have been many high-profile incidents in the United States in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s of individuals thought to be attempting "suicide by cop" or killing others before killing themselves. Examples include the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the 2010 Austin plane crash, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the 2014 Isla Vista killings.
Rates compared to other countries
A 2009 U.S. Army report indicates military veterans have double the suicide rate of non-veterans, and more active-duty soldiers are dying from suicide than in combat in the Iraq War (2003-2011) and War in Afghanistan (2001–2014). Colonel Carl Castro, director of military operational medical research for the Army noted "there needs to be a cultural shift in the military to get people to focus more on mental health and fitness." In 2012, the US Army reported 185 suicides among active-duty troops, exceeding the number of combat deaths in that year (176). This figure has significantly increased since 2001, when the number of suicides was 52.
Attempted suicide rates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults in the U.S. are three times higher than national averages. According to some groups, this is linked to heterocentric cultures and institutionalised homophobia in some cases, including the use of LGBTQ people as a political wedge issue, such as in the contemporary efforts to halt legalizing same-sex marriages. Many tie bullying, including cyberbullying to suicides of LGBTQ youth. Singer Lady Gaga has been outspoken on these issues, and met former U.S. President Barack Obama to urge that bullying of this nature be declared a hate crime. Founded in 1998 to address suicide among LGBT youth, The Trevor Project has enlisted a variety of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Daniel Radcliffe, Neil Patrick Harris, James Marsden, Chris Colfer, Kim Kardashian, Darren Criss, Dianna Agron, George Takei, and Anderson Cooper. They use National Suicide Prevention Week to launch new initiatives and campaigns utilizing their celebrity supporters. The project was founded by the Academy Award-winning filmmakers of Trevor, about a gay thirteen-year-old boy who attempts suicide when his friends reject him because of his sexuality. The filmmakers realized that some of the program's viewers might be facing the same kind of crisis as Trevor, and not finding a helpline for LGBTQ youth they created one. The Trevor Lifeline is the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth.
Many studies have found very high rates of suicide in people with autism spectrum disorders, including high functioning autism and what was formerly known as Asperger syndrome. Autism and particularly Asperger syndrome are highly associated with clinical depression and as many as 30 percent or more of people with Asperger syndrome also suffer from depression.
One study found that children with autism are 28 times more likely to ideate or attempt suicide than the general population. This is possibly even higher than the rate among rape survivors, who are 13 times more likely than non-crime victims to attempt suicide. Another study found that being an adult and having Asperger syndrome increases the suicide risk 10 fold.
This may be related to the shunning, harassment, stigma, and violence that is commonly perpetrated upon people with autism. One study found that 18.5% of American children with autism had been physically abused and 16.5% had been sexually abused. People with autism are much more likely to be sexually abused than the general population.
Another possible factor is the likely increased prevalence of chronic pain in people with autism, contrary to the popular belief that autistic people are insensitive to pain. Autism has been found to be closely related to fibromyalgia, a common chronic pain disorder.
- Assisted suicide in the United States
- Euthanasia in the United States
- National Suicide Prevention Week
- Teenage suicide in the United States
- Suicide among LGBT youth
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